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Can Scunthorpe train up another star?

espite making only a handful of appearances for Scunthorpe United’s first team, John McAtee has reportedly caught the attention of Newcastle United. The Magpies have been mooted with an interest in the 20-year-old to bolster their frontline when the transfer window reopens in the summer. 

McAtee has played 15 games for the Iron since joining from Shrewsbury Town last year, scoring two goals in League Two at the time of writing. He was hardly prolific in loan spells in non-league football, but his attributes on the field have intrigued Steve Bruce and his backroom staff. 

Scunthorpe have developed a lot of talented players in the past, but few made have made the transition to the Premier League. The last major starlet to leave Glanford Park was Gary Hooper in a £2.5m move to Celtic in 2010. Hooper has enjoyed a solid career, but has never quite lived up to the potential that he flashed during his days with the club. 

Given the way transfer business is conducted in the modern era, the Iron could demand a fee higher than Hooper’s for the 20-year-old from the Premier League outfit. We’ll now look at two of the most famous players, who more than made the grade and if McAtee goes on to have an as successful career as them, he will have done very well for himself indeed. 

Kevin Keegan

Perhaps the most famous player to emerge from Scunthorpe’s academy. Keegan remains one of the most dynamic players ever produced in England, displaying excellence from the midfield. Keegan made his debut at the age of 17 for the Iron against Peterborough United. It did not take long for him to become a regular in the side in the fourth division.

He played three seasons for the club before one of the best teams in the land came calling. Liverpool signed him for £33,000 in 1971 and he would go on to win three league titles for the Reds along with the European Cup in 1977. A move to Hamburg followed where he would be recognised as the best player in the world twice in two years with Ballon d’Or between 1978 and 1979.

Despite his success at domestic level, he failed to bring glory at international to England. His statistics were impressive, notching 21 goals in 63 appearances. The Three Lions failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1974 and 1978, while they crashed out of the European Championships in 1980 under his leadership.

However, England would certainly like to have him in their ranks for Euro 2020 where they are backed in the international betting odds at 9/2 to claim the crown. Keegan was a class apart during his career and even had success as a manager, albeit the Premier League crown evaded his grasp at Newcastle. 

Ray Clemence

Before Keegan, Clemence was another gem to appear out of the lower leagues for Scunthorpe. He played two seasons for the Iron, making 48 appearances before Liverpool again swooped in to take him to Anfield under Bill Shankly in 1967. There he became part of the furniture for the next 14 years, providing the reliable presence between the sticks that would help the Reds win the league title five times and the European Cup three times during his tenure.

He enjoyed further silverware at Tottenham after amassing over 450 appearances for the Merseysiders. At Spurs, the keeper added a second FA Cup win and a third UEFA Cup win to his collection in seven years at White Hart Lane before finally retiring in 1988. Clemence was a superstar between the sticks and remains one of the most decorated English keepers of all time.

He was also a star for the England national team, although as with Keegan he played in an era where success evaded the Three Lions. Clemence played 61 times for England before Peter Shilton came along and claimed the number one shirt. His legacy remains as one of the finest keepers ever to grace the net.


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In conversation with Cleveland Taylor

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